Nasirnagar attack: Why trial did not begin in six years?

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

The incident of attack and arson on houses and temples of Hindu community in Brahmanbaria’s Nasirnagar on 30 October 2016 over an alleged Facebook status of some Rasraj Das drew huge protests around the country.

The government assured of reconstructing the damaged houses and temples and meting out justice in the quickest possible time. The government did reconstruct the houses and temples but justice is yet to be delivered in cases filed over the incident for an unknown reason. Justice is eluded in the case of Ramu too, where houses and temples of Buddhist community were attacked in 2012.

According to a report of Prothom Alo’s Brahmanbaria correspondent, the trial has not started in any of the eight cases filed over attacks on the Hindu community in Nasirnagar although the investigation officers have submitted charge sheets to the court in all the cases. The charge sheet in one of the cases was submitted within 13 months of the incident.

The charge sheets of the other seven cases were submitted to the court last December and in January this year. The charge was framed in one of the cases but the trial process has been stalled over a review of the case.

Rasraj Das is one of the main accused in the case whose charge is scheduled to be framed on 24 December. He is an impoverished fisherman. He has been accused in a case filed under the Information & Communication Technology Act. The Police Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Department’s forensic department did not find that post in Rasraj’s Facebook ID or mobile phone. But the investigation officer of the case in the charge sheet said he has found involvement of Rasraj alongside another local youth named Jahangir Alam.

It can be noted that Jahangir Alam and his associates detained Rasraj, and handed him over to the police after beating him up over the allegation that Rasraj has posted an objectionable status about Islam on Facebook. Rasraj had to spend a long time in jail in the case. He will have to go to Chattogram to appear before the ICT court.

The date of framing of charges against Rasraj, who has been tortured and imprisoned for the alleged Facebook post, has been fixed. However, the charge has not been framed in the case that was filed over the attack on the houses and temples of the Hindu community. 

How did the investigating officer discover Rasraj’s involvement when the forensic department of PBI did not find the post on his Facebook ID and mobile phone?

Local Awami League leaders and several former chairmen of union parishads are among the accused in seven other cases. Is their political clout hindering the framing of charges in these cases? Six years have passed but the cases saw so little headway.

The investigation report has to be flawless and objective for the sake of justice. Otherwise, the chance remains that innocent people would be implicated and criminals would be freed. We hope that trials in attacks on houses and temples of the Hindu community begin quickly.